COVID-19 and our Costume Business

Hello everyone, and thank you so much for supporting our business! It’s obvious but it’s true – your support means more to us than ever right now. Today, we would have been in the opening weekend of Virginia Renaissance Faire. Instead, I’m home sewing masks. What a strange Spring it has been!

If you follow us on Facebook, this will be a little repetitive, but here is the craziness of our last two months, and what we are looking at going forward:

March 13th, 2020: The day things started to go crazy. We were on the road to Bay Area Renaissance Festival, desperately hoping that it would not be cancelled before we finished our drive to Florida. We watched the breaking news, watched our April shows cancel and postpone, and realized this could well be our last show weekend for a while.

And so it was. That weekend, we thought we were about to be entering 10 straight weekends of fairs and festivals. Now, everything has cancelled or postponed up until September. And with everything uncertain, we have no idea if those shows will happen either, or what the attendance will look like if they do.

April 20th, 2020: Someone smashed in two of the front windows of our studio building. Because that’s totally an expense we need right now. You can read all about it (and help if you are able) in our GoFundMe campaign to replace them.

What’s Now, and What’s Next?

We are trying everything we can to get through this and use this as an opportunity rather than a set back. Here’s what we’re up to:

  • Nathaniel has been working hard inside our building for the last two months, fixing up more and more usable space.
  • I’ve put my sewing machine and my geeky fabric stash to making cloth masks. These are available in our Etsy store, and will be available in our shop and our festival booths in the future.
  • We’re also working on building a better, independent web store. Watch for that coming soon!
  • We’re planning and working towards opening the front of our shop, harder than ever. Whether or not events come back in the fall, we will be ready with unique items for your Halloween!

Whatever happens next, we’re working on weathering the storm. Thank you everyone for your support these last few months, and we look forward to seeing you when we can gather once again!

Yup, We Went to a Bigfoot Festival in 2019!

Here’s some of the fun I didn’t get to share with everyone in the busy time of the year – we went to a Bigfoot Festival! Actually, we sort of went to two. Let me explain… 🙂

IMG_20190824_112553.jpgAs often happens in a year, we found we had a gap with fewer shows than we thought, so we went on a last minute online rush to find some shows we could do and keep things going. We ended up finding a small event in Cherokee, NC. It was the first Cherokee Legends Comic Con. As we’re still having fun exploring our state, we decided why the hell not?

So first the fun that is Cherokee… We had never been out there before, and I have to say it was kind of cool to do an event on the Cherokee reservation. We had no idea how we would do business-wise, so we made sure we would have fun anyway. I found us possibly the oddest and most fun hotel we have stayed at. We were in what looked like a 1970s built tourist “teepee” fronted cabin. It looked run down terrifying from the drive up (seriously, I forewarned my husband so he wouldn’t think I was totally crazy), but absolutely delightful once you were there. We had a full cabin with a nice kitchen and multiple bedrooms, and then the back opened up into an awesome porch with hot tub, over one of the creeks that feeds the river in town. So nice!

And that river was one of the things I loved about Cherokee. When we weren’t working, we were taking walks in beautiful parks on the water, and stopping in silly touristy shops. (Yes, we did also go to the casino before we left.) Since I grew up in a family that collected native art, I also took time to find some real galleries.

The event was entertaining, and not bad for a very small first year event. Unfortunately several vendors did not show up… but fortunately we’d also brought pretty much all of our stock with us, so we ended up taking over an entire row to help fill the room. We were back to back with two of the celebrity guests, so we had an awesome time chatting and laughing during the many slow times. Not exactly a  money maker for us, but fun.

The event was organized by someone who had primarily had organized Bigfoot and related conventions in the past, and it showed. There was a lot more Bigfoot or alien sightings or supernatural experiences to the panels than comics, but it was still a lot of fun, and an introduction to an event type that we had not done before. And as a result of being there, we were invited to the South Carolina Bigfoot Festival.

IMG_20191026_102306This was another moment of “Sure, why not?” So in October, we were off to a Bigfoot themed street festival in South Carolina.

We don’t do a lot of street festivals anymore. We used to do more, but as our work is not exactly main stream it doesn’t tend to do really well for us. Well, not so great at sales for this one because of that bane of outdoor festivals in October – rain. But oh my was it a blast!

Costumed people as Bigfoot wandering around and posing for pictures, contests for Bigfoot look-alikes and having the biggest feet, this town knows how to throw a great event!

If we do these again, we hope for better weather, and will bring more Bigfoot and cryptid related items with us.

(I did make these silly journal covers for the South Carolina Bigfoot Festival. I’m going to make more – see them on Etsy here!)

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Onward to 2020!

Hi guys, and thank you for sticking with us through our creative adventures! As we roll into 2020, I once again notice how rarely I update this blog and thus all the stuff you guys never get to hear about. So, here goes:

Building Update!

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Back room, our big project! Tearing out the old rotted flat roof.

The great adventure that we moved into two years ago and purchased last year is crawling towards being a better and better building.

The first good update? It’s not raining inside anymore! Yes, we got our roof repairs done and took away Nathaniel’s serenity waterfall. It will still need a more complete roof replacement in the future, but this is a huge positive step.

There is still lots to do. Apparently the constant moisture was the only thing holding together some of the floor boards back there, so now that they aren’t constantly getting wet the wood started to crumble. So, one more thing to replace before we can really open the storefront.

But it is all fixed enough that we can occasionally open to guests… and we’ve done a lot of fixing to the front as well. We hope to soon exhibit local artists in our big front display window rooms!

Major Projects

IMG_20191208_111310-02We have had some ambitious moments this year, some bursts of wild creativity. Some have been successful, some have not. Fixing the building has delayed getting our rental inventory really built, but we have found a greater interest which helps.

Of course, one of our coolest projects this year was the Amethyst God Hammer.  Because sometimes you just want to make something absolutely awesome,

And speaking of “cool,” we had one silly little thing to combat the intense Virginia Renaissance Faire heat take off more than expected this year –fan holsters! Seriously, I could not keep these in stock for a chunk of this summer.

The building took up a lot of our time and interfered with a chunk of our productivity this year, so hopefully 2020 will mean a lot of new awesome coming out of the studio!

Shows We Did

We did a lot of our old standbys this year – Madicon, Virginia Renaissance Faire, Dragon Con – but we always try to add in a handful of new. We’re experimenting with where our new “local” is, and as a result how far south we are willing to go. We started off our 2019 season in Atlanta and ended it in Orlando! Ah, nice weather in December is delightful…

We’ve been sticking to more renaissance fairs and less comic conventions in the last year, a trend that will probably continue. We generally do well with our unique blend at small renaissance festivals. The comic convention market has been interesting over the last year or two, so we’ll be keeping an eye to see what happens.

We are expanding into more horror and haunter events. We were not able to do the haunted house again this year, but we’d still love to try again in the future. But we’re going to start off our 2020 at Hauntcon, to promote our custom services to the haunter and Halloween community! That should definitely be fun!

So, here’s to 2020 everyone – may this year be better than the last, and may we make all of the awesome things!

 

The Amethyst God Hammer

Those of you who have seen us at our last couple of shows of the year also got to see Nathaniel’s major art piece of the year. This was a dream project, and I wanted to take a moment and share it in detail with you all.

First of all, here is the pretty:

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Nathaniel had been wanting to make a God Hammer for a while, and he focuses personally on a god who wields a hammer (and no, probably not the one you are thinking – a crafter god.) The right stones to inspire the project were not coming along, until the idea to make this geode faced.

So, here is the result after many, many hours of making it work, plus multiple trips to find the perfect crystals:

  • Two large amethyst geode crystal faces
  • Several smaller amethyst clusters
  • Blue abalone shell disks on the opposite side
  • Tree of Heaven (yes, that is really what it is called) hammer head
  • Hickory shaft
  • Hand stitched leather detailing with hand tooled phases of the moon
  • Buffalo hide handle wrap

The result weighs sixteen pounds. Yes, you could actually wield it, though it is unwieldy and might lose a few crystal points if you do.

This is very much a one of a kind piece, though we can use it as an inspiration for a special piece for you.

Yes, the price tag is $10,000 for this really special art piece. We are happy to take that in multiple payments if the purchaser is serious. Please feel free to contact us for more details.

Call For Artists!

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Hello local artists! We want you to show off your awesome work!

We have an awesome 10 foot by 10 foot display window at the front corner of our store. It is our goal to use this to display the work of an eclectic assortment of creative people.

What is the space?

The retail display window is approximately 10 feet by 10 feet. It includes a back wall with a doorway for access and full glass windows on three sides. It is regularly driven by on both The Boulevard and Irving Street. It is in high sun and does have significant changes in temperature, so bear that in mind when thinking of what you want to display.

What can I display here?

Almost anything you want! Want to make a big installation piece? Sure! Want to sell things from our window? We can help with that. Want to suspend things from the ceiling? As long as it’s nothing really heavy, go right ahead! Want to paint the room itself? As long as it is returned to neutral at the end of the month, have fun!

What’s the catch?

Minimal catches, we promise! Each artist will have the space for one month. You must install your work within the first week of the month, keep your work up for as much of the month as possible, and clean out the window and return it to neutral by the end of the month. If you let Wyrd Armouries make any sales for you, we will collect 25% commission on those sales.

In return, we will promote you and your window in our social media, and have your contact info of your choice easily at hand for anyone who sees your work.

What do I need to do to display my work?

Simple answer? Send us an email at wyrdarmouries@gmail.com ! Please include the following things in your email:

  • Your name and contact info
  • An artist statement or artist bio
  • Photo examples of your work
  • A proposal of what you would like to display
  • Your top three choices of what month you would like to display your work.

Availability:

Please note that in October and December Wyrd Armouries decorates this window for the holidays. These months are not available.

Currently available are:

  • January 2020
  • February 2020
  • March 2020
  • April 2020
  • May 2020
  • June 2020
  • August 2020
  • September 2020
  • November 2020

Progress! Update on our Studio Renovations

I promised updates, and what do you know – things are starting to look up on our building renovations! Mind you, it looks worse before it looks better, but we actually have work happening on our roof!

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Removing the tin tile on the last section of ceiling of the main room, revealing old construction techniques and awesome huge beams.
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A bit more tear out – bad wood removed and ready for repair.
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Back room, our big project! Tearing out the old rotted flat roof.

Yeah, it looks ugly now. But not too much longer and we’ll no longer have rain inside!

Next step… fixing water damaged floors, and then we can start building out our work stations!

When What Can Go Wrong Does Go Wrong

Being a small business, a creative person, an artist, a self-employed person… there are so many things that can go wrong, and usually no one but yourself to fix it. You can’t keep going if you don’t adapt.

Fortunately, we are stubborn.

Oops, We forgot something!

 

With as many shows as we have done, it is to be expected that occasionally something has been left behind. Packing for events is never not stressful, no matter how many times we have done it, and it often happens at the end of very long weeks trying to make as many things as we possibly can.

Sometimes, it is specialty displays that get left. We left our mask displays behind once, before we learned how to show them on gridwall. Last minute solution? Skinny pillows from Goodwill that matched our booth colors. We still use the pillows to add some interest to our displays.

Inventory that gets left behind is probably the most annoying. That’s things that might have sold that customers never see. Fortunately, all of our inventory doesn’t fit in just one box, so we’ve never left behind all of our inventory. It does mean putting out pretty much everything else we have made to make up for it.

Most recently, we forgot a bag of stakes that goes to our large, medieval pavilion for a one weekend event. It uses both large stakes for tension and small stakes to pin the 16 poles. Replacing all of those at a moment’s notice was next to impossible and would have been painfully expensive. In that case, it was a cost decision – buying a new backup tent at Walmart was more cost effective than buying all new stakes. So creative use of Walmart canopys it was!

For one show, we even had our entire tent not ship on time! And that’s why one of our backup tents is a 10 x 20 carport.

Rain, and Wind Oh My!

If you do outdoor shows, you have to contend with weather.

Actually, amend that. Sometimes, you have to contend with weather even with an indoor show. Shows on snow days where no one can make it to your indoor show are a not good you can’t do anything about.

And then there was that one time there was a pipe leak above our booth and we had to move tables to avoid stinky water. Thank goodness none of our products were directly under it!

But rain and wind… they will happen, and you have to adapt.

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Poor mangled steel tent! The only tents that survived the night were the full reenactor tents.

Wind is our least favorite. Several seasons ago, we lost three pop up tents in the course of a year. One was twisted beyond any hope of salvaging by a hurricane remnant. That was the year that made us buy our medieval pavilion!

Sometimes, it just means no sleeping in the tent at night, like we usually do at renaissance faires. High winds or thunderstorms tearing through a camp site can send us to sleeping in the car – which at this point we are well prepared for with foam mats and car blankets. It used to send us to a hotel.

And then there’s rain. Rain is easier for a tent set up than wind, but not good on leather products or on foot traffic. Product we can shift, and what is where will rotate when the rain get bad. Leather goes to where it is most protected, wood gets a little wet. But rain also means mud. We were “the dock” at last year’s Virginia Renaissance Faire because the hill became a river that parted around our makeshift wooden platform. Not setting up for an extended time without a platform again!

But if it’s only a one weekend event, we have to rely on organizers for things like straw. Our poor neighbors once had a river through their tent!

But whatever the problem, if there is a show we have paid for, we will be there! Maybe sometimes a little late. Maybe sick or sleep deprived. But we’ll be there!

What show disasters have you had to deal with? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

Wyrd Armouries Swag!

When Nathaniel and I went to the Halloween & Party Expo (which was totally awesome, by the way), I designed t-shirts for us to wear on the floor. They were made last minute with iron-on transfers, but we still like the design.

So, we’ve made it available for all of our friends who are Keeping It Wyrd! Proceeds from the sale of these will help us keep renovating our studio and bringing you new creative projects. If you have a moment, think about picking up a little swag to support Wyrd Armouries!

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Support Wyrd Armouries section of our Etsy store

Event Review – Anachrocon

We spent last weekend at another event that was new to us, though it was the 10th anniversary of the event overall. The fun of moving south means that our day-travel radius has shifted… if we’re willing to push it, as far south as Atlanta.

So that’s where we went!

The other fun part of this is that we are meeting all new vendors and customers. So we had a nice weekend meeting fun new people.

Unfortunatly, much like our show earlier in February, we had a lot of time to meet our fellow vendors. Traffic was light, and those who had done this convention repeatedly all agreed that things were down year over year. Still, we did generally well, met awesome new people, and have some new custom orders to tackle – which I will definitely be sharing in progress pictures of! Keep an eye on our Instagram if no where else.

Now on to the photos!

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I love this dealer’s room sign! I wish more conventions would be creative with it.
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The nice and not to big dealer’s room.
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Obligatory picture of Nathaniel finishing pieces in the booth. He’s gained an audience.
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Another booth photo! The creepy shield did startle a couple of people.
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Wood spoons and wood knives. We’ve got it covered!
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A fun example of taking creative inspiration from found objects. The skull sword got lots of attention.
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There were so many excellent costumes about! Love these two.
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Steampunk Scarecrow! Wish I’d seen him back when I did steampunk Batman villians for Dragon Con.
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This woman is determined to spread more positivity to the world, and I love her cause!
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Awesome time machine made out of a mobility scooter.
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When traveling in time, you totally need a plasma caster, right?
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Our big steampunk contraption is finally ready for sharing. Glad they had fun posing with our weapon!
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Excellent music for the Saturday evening concert. Tuatha Dea were lots of fun!
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Wish this band had a larger audience, because they were a blast!
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Spider lace totally needs a spider sword…
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…or, apparantly, a Harley hammer, since that went home with her for her own customization.

 

 

 

Event Review: Bull City Robotic Rodeo

We’re happy to have started our year with an all new adventure in Steampunk, and a new local show! This show had its good and bad, but I hope the team that put it together tries again next year.

First, huge compliments to the organizers of this event. They had all sorts of awesome things going on all hours of the event, and a bunch of amazing creators. Honestly, it was one of the best dealer’s rooms for quality that I have ever seen. We had fun reunions with steampunk creators that we usually see up north.

I even ended up on TV!

 

 

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